This is one tab the Hawks basketball franchise had no qualms picking up.
The new Hawke's Bay Basketball Foundation Incorporated franchise board yesterday officially named former Tall Blacks coach Tab Baldwin as the man to help spearhead the region's elite basketballers in the quest for their second Bartercard National Basketball League (NBL) title next year.
In a Skype interview at Kennedy Park Top Ten conference room in Napier yesterday, it was revealed the 54-year-old opted to come to Hawke's Bay "because it was about coming home, if it doesn't sound too cliched", considering his glittering resume could have got him a job in many key basketball-playing countries.
"I have so many old friends in Hawke's Bay. They were always very tough competitors but they were also very good friends," Baldwin said from the sports shoe manufacturing region of Jinjiang, Quanzhou, where he and co-assistant coach Nenad Vucinic are at the helm of the Fujian SBS Xunxing team in the Chinese Basketball Association league.
"I'm probably more excited about coming back home this time than I was when I first went to New Zealand in 1988."
Having coached the former Auckland Stars to five NBL titles in eight seasons, Baldwin has had longstanding ties with Hawks general manager Paul Trass, former franchises owner/stalwart Jeremy Bayliss and former Hawks coach and fellow American-born Curtis Wooten, who was Auckland coach with Baldwin as his assistant and flatmate.
"Curtis and I go a long way back to our Auckland days before we were Stars and before we were the Rebels so there's a lot of water under the bridge that connects me with the Hawke's Bay region and people," Baldwin said.
He was "extremely excited" at the prospect of coaching the Hawks.
He was looking forward to locking horns with ex-rival coaches as well as players he had coached, especially ex-Hawks coach Paul Henare who last month "dropped a bombshell" he was going to coach the Southland Sharks after just two seasons in the Bay.
Baldwin revealed he had applied for the Sharks job but while he was disappointed in missing out he was pleased for Henare.
In the preamble to hooking up with Baldwin yesterday, Trass reiterated the disappointment of losing Henare who created history as the NZ Breakers' captain in their maiden Australian National Basketball League title in 2010-11 as the first Kiwi franchise to have won an Australian competition in any code.
But Trass was quick to welcome Baldwin who was a key figure in the development of Henare as a player, luring him from Napier to Auckland in 1998 to be part of his championship dynasty.
"He has a very professional manner and he's a great motivator, not only within basketball, but also in the wider community. Tab just commands respect.
"We couldn't believe how excited he was about coming to Hawke's Bay.
"When you get that feeling, you start to believe it could be great."
While taking the Hawks job in the vicinity of $70,000 would be a substantial drop in income, Trass told the guests Baldwin had assured the board he was capable of making up the difference in other endorsements and avenues.
In some ways it will be an emotional return for Baldwin who wants a return to familiar grounds after seven years of coaching "on the road".
"It has been in some ways rewarding and in some ways extremely difficult.
"But I think it's time for me now to bring my family back and to settle down and to find some stability for my children," he said of his Greek wife, Efi, and their four children -- Rania 18, Giota (pronounced Yota) 16, George 14, Adriana 12 -- who are expected to arrive before him in Auckland on October 20.
The family, he said, could comfortably live in "exotic" Crete, where his wife hails from, but the uncertainty of Europe and Greece had pushed them to seek a better future for their children.
While fans may debate whether he's an older coach or not, he felt he was at a juncture of his life where enjoyment was crucial.
"I feel I can give more because coaching in New Zealand is so much more community-based because you do so many more things," he said, emphasising his job description would entail building a rapport with sponsors and management.
"When you coach overseas it's very cold. You go to practice and you go back to your apartment or hotel room and wait for the next practice."
Baldwin felt the Hawks were "there or thereabouts" in winning an NBL title in the past five to six years.
"When you get that close it's not that you've done something wrong to not get over that last hurdle but on the day another team who did things right for the final couple of days," he said, adding it was critical to recruit players who could perform on those days coupled with a bit of the experience he has gleaned although former coaches Shawn Dennis and Henare had done a great job in establishing a platform.
"I don't think we need to revolutionise anything the coaches have done.
"I just think we have to keep ourselves at that level and be the meanest kids on the block when it comes to championship games."
Did Baldwin have a message for former protege Henare?
He was going to Skype Henare later that day, he said amid laughter.
"Look, Paulie and I are extremely close. I would go so far as to say I'm as close to Paulie as any player I've coached.
"He's an individual and competitive guy. He's going to have a good organisation which will put a lot of money into the team so we'll sort sort it out on the hard court as we should."